Ah, yes, like Galxy Quest, Terminator, Matrix, and Battlestar Galactica
are fine "historical documents." Why these shows are on the SciFi
Channel instead of the Discovery Channel, I'll never understand.
I am a huge fan of Science Fiction novels. It is interesting to read
some of the old books, because they predicted future technology, state
of the earth, and state of society.
SciFi shows robots being murderer, mean, greedy, scary because these
are human traits. If the past is any indication, a "thinking"
invention of a human being is likely to eventually possess these
characteristics. A creation reflects the creators mind.
Robot stories have tended to be negative, especially post 19th century.
The movie Metropolis shows robots as a menace. When taken in context of
the times, it's not hard to see why. The movie was made as the country
(the world really) was shifting toward industrial automation, led by the
likes of Henry Ford. Workers were already rebelling against "the
machines." The fact that the bad robot in Metropolis took the appearance
of an attractive female is also not an accident. The idea was that even
dressed up and pretty, mechanization threatens the working class.
The play R.U.R., which is often cited as creating the term "robot," was
also about dehumanization through mechanization, though not as subtle as
Metropolis. To this day, factory unions still fight over the ratio of
people vs. robots. I suspect there will always be a love/hate
During the Depression robot stories in the sci-fi pulps were
particularly negative. It wasn't until writers like Eando Binder and
Isaac Asimov wrote about a "kinder, gentler" robot did things start to
turn around, and then only in written literature. The berserk robot was
still a favorite of the movies, because -- well -- they're more
interesting! I still think it's cool a robot got the hots for Farrah
Fawcett in Saturn 3.
What about Asimov's robots, or even the Star Wars robots? They weren't
evil. Both sides of the coin were shown in "The Black Hole"
Data from Star Trek, the "Lost in Space" robot, these were good robots.
I'm still debating about Furbys though... They were much more fun after
judicious applications of a 9iron. :-)
You missed Saturn 3, Demon Seed, Screamers and Moonbase.
Human beings lie, cheat, steal and rape. It's quite reasonable that
any logical, rational, sane entity would want to kill them off before
they spread through the galaxy like a viral plague. It's called pest
"The cat was once revered as a god. They have never forgotten this" - Anon
Human beings lie, cheat, and steal because we are the product of
Darwinian Evolution, and our ancestors that lied, cheated, and stole,
were more successful than those that did not.
But robots don't evolve by Darwinian Evolution. They don't reproduce
from other robots, they are manufactured. Their progress is more
akin to Lamarckism, where (despite the patent system) good innovations
tend to be widely copied, not restricted to a single product line.
In such a system, attributes such as greed, lust, deception, and
even individual survival, confer no special advantage. There is
no reason to expect these traits to evolve in robots, unless they
are intentionally designed in.
> Human beings lie, cheat, and steal because we are the product of
> Religious Evolution, and our ancestors that lied, cheated, and stole,
> were more successful than those that did not.
> Religious systems have created a symbol of higharchy of superiority
> to all other peoples. Robots have been programmed to follow this
Debatable...there are evolutionary arguments for altruism. In fact, if
you think about it for a second, which will last longer: an ordered
society of honest, hard-working people, or a society where nobody trusts
each other and everybody is purely selfish? Pretty clearly the former.
Of course, that society is vulnerable to "cheaters"...people who profit
by cheating honest folk. In game theoretic terms, there is a mixed
equilibrium where some people cheat but most are honest. A fair
representation of the way things are.
Well they don't evolve...yet. At some point its not unreasonable to
think they will.
Would you care to provide some historical precedents? The Chinese are some
of the most honest, hard-working people on Earth and their history has been
one of getting conquered by one gang of thieves after another. Eventually
the gang of thieves gets assimilated and right about that time another one
comes along. And all those thieves rape any woman they feel like raping,
so they achieve greater reproductive success than the honest, hard-working
In any case, evolution doesn't care about "society" except to the extent
that it has some relation to reproductive success.
And which have the greater reproductive success? The honest people who have
one sex partner in their lives or the scoundrels who have hundreds?
If they do, it will be by engineering, not by random selection.
I wasn't arguing that real societies resemble the ideal model -- but a
society of cheaters and backstabbers will slowly kill itself in the long
run. Biology and selection pressure encourage certain forms of altruism.
How else do you explain insect colonies where most individuals don't
even possess sexual organs? Or monkeys who use verbal signals to warn
other monkeys of nearby predators?
Like you point out, however, the payoff for being a cheater in an honest
society is much higher than being a cheater in a dishonest society --
probably because there is a bigger pie overall in the honest society.
My response to your china example is that china has been crippled by
"cheaters" -- people who gain authority unfairly and then wield it to
meet their own ends. This is why China is way behind the industrial
leaders of the world. The same principle applies to most of the former
USSR, middle east, and africa.
Why are western and east asian countries (well Hong Kong, Japan, Korea,
and Taiwan) countries so far ahead of the rest of the world? Because
those societies are largely honest.
I'm not saying they are more honest by nature, either...rather it's more
likely that the legal framework which prosecutes cheater behavior makes
it more profitable to be a law abiding citizen.
Of course, lest I confuse economic development with a progressive
society, let me also include India, specifically the state of Kerala.
Kerala is very poor in economic terms, but a very advanced society: low
birthrate, high literacy, low crime, etc. It all comes down, IMO, to
legal frameworks, and how effective they are at encouraging people to
"play fair". It might also have something do with a "cultural
philosophy" that all denizens share.
The better question, which offspring have greater success? The ones
raised by a pair of loving parents or the ones with an absent parent?
Hmm.. not sure what you mean. Are you saying its impossible to engineer
machines that can reproduce and compete for limited resources? I doubt
that its really impossible, but I wonder what purpose such machines
I still can't tell if you are supporting the original, cockamamie post,
or if you are rejecting it.
You clearly have a lot of misconceptions about evolution. First, the human
species has been more or less stable for at least 20 times longer than
recorded history, so in evolutionary terms the "success" or lack of same of
China or the US or any other "society" other than hunter-gatherers is
pretty much irrelevant. In another 100,000 years humans may be showing
adaptations to such societies but there is no evidence to speak of that
that is currently the case.
Second, "success" in evolutionary terms has nothing to do with wealth or
power or money or what kind of house you live in or anything else of that
nature--the only criterion is reproduction--that genetice makeup that
produces the most offspring who grow to reproductive age is the one that is
In some species a genetic makeup that leads to cooperation results in the
largest number of mature offspring, in others it doesn't. Cats (leaving
aside lions and hyenas) don't cooperate over anything but making more cats
and even there a certain amount of violence is often attendant and yet they
seem to do quite well.
So, taking your examples, first, China may not be "successful" in material
terms, but more than 1/6 of the population of the world is in China so in
evolutionary terms they are doing something right. In evolutionary terms
those "developed" societies that you hold up as shining examples are _not_
doing well--technological development seems to bring about reduced
population growth so they may very well turn out to be evolutionary
Now, as for your contention that there is a "bigger pie overall" in an
"honest society", are you saying that an "honest society" will have more
people of reproductive age than will a "dishonest society", because in
evolutionary terms that is the only "pie" that matters. A homeless man who
manages somehow to charm a large number of women onto his heating grate and
manages to impregnate a small percentage of them will be more "successful"
in evolutionary terms than will Bill Gates.
You say "Kerala is very poor in economic terms, but a very advanced society:
low birthrate, high literacy, low crime, etc."
Read that carefully: "low birthrate". In other words it is eliminating
itself from the gene pool.
You say "The better question, which offspring have greater success? The ones
raised by a pair of loving parents or the ones with an absent parent?"
Which are going to have more kids, the impoverished children of broken homes
who start reproducing in their teens and have numerous unplanned
pregnancies or the ones who start in their 20s and have one or two planned
kids? "Success" in financial terms is irrelevant.
You say "Hmm.. not sure what you mean. Are you saying its impossible to
engineer machines that can reproduce and compete for limited resources? I
doubt that its really impossible, but I wonder what purpose such machines
It is certainly possible to design such machines. But that has nothing to
do with evolution. Their design would remain the same for all eternity if
there was no means by which it could be altered. In "natural" organisms
that mechanism is mutation and random chance--if a mutation results in more
offspring growing to maturity then it stays in the gene pool, if it results
in less then it eventually gets blocked out. Robots don't have a mechanism
for mutation--they're designed to do what they do. If their design is
changed it is because someone or some thing sat down with a CAD program or
pencil and paper or whatever and changed it, not because a cosmic ray hit a
Machines have no mercy basically.
Contemporary usefull Robots like Washing machines generally provide
us with more life quality, but used incorrectly...
...so it is the incorrect extension of the human psyche in the first place which
makes them dangerous.
Physicists make physics!
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